Fresh harrowing evidence of people shot by the army during the August 1 protests in Harare has surfaced amid claims that the commission set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa ignored the majority of the victims that wanted to tell their stories during the public hearings conducted in three cities.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Mnangagwa was last Thursday given a summary of findings by the commission of inquiry led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, barely two days after it concluded its public hearings.
However, in a new development that could further dent the commission’s credibility, 22 local human rights groups have produced a 500-page dossier containing 18 affidavits from victims and relatives of people killed when soldiers opened fire on civilians.
The civil society groups under the Human Rights NGO Forum said only two of the people that submitted affidavits to the Motlanthe commission were allowed to give evidence and the rest were shut out under unclear circumstances.
Veteran human rights defender Jestina Mukoko, who also chairs the Human Rights Forum, handed over the affidavits and video evidence to the commission, but was never invited to testify.
Among the affidavits contained in the dossier obtained by The Standard, which was ignored by the commission is that of Wisdom Chipere, who claims that he was shot by soldiers in his genitals.
Chipere said he was at corner Julius Nyerere Way and Nelson Mandela Avenue in the city centre when he was shot by a soldier.
“I saw a group of people who were fleeing soldiers that were firing gunshots,” reads part of the affidavit.
“These soldiers were in army uniforms and armed with rifles.
“I ran away for about 50 metres. I felt pain beneath my genitals and I then stopped and observed that I was shot on my genitals.
“One of my scrotum balls was outside and my p***s was injured as well. Blood gushed out and I felt intense pain.
“I failed to run or stand on my own, but I was then assisted and ferried to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals by two young men that I don’t know.
“I reported the matter at Harare Central Police Station and was given initial report number 100665.”
Norman Matara from the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights examined Chipere and concluded that he was shot in the genitals.
Loveday Munetsi also wrote an affidavit narrating how she was shot by soldiers on her shoulder and the bullet is still lodged in her body.
Norest Kembo lost a tooth after he was assaulted with baton sticks on his mouth by soldiers and was only assisted by a journalist who was covering the protest after he fell unconscious.
Dzikamai Chivanga sustained gunshot wounds after soldiers sprayed bullets on a commuter omnibus he had boarded.
In his affidavit, Chivanga said he saw eight soldiers shooting at the commuter omnibus he was in and a bullet went through the back of the vehicle before hitting him on his ankle.
“Whilst at the corner of Chinhoyi Street and Albion Street, there were eight army officers and the commuter omnibus driver noticed them and he took off at high speed,” he said.
“The soldiers started shooting at the commuter omnibus and a bullet went through the back of the vehicle and hit me on my ankle.”
Chivanga said the commuter omnibus then stopped along Simon Mazorodze Road where all passengers and the driver disembarked and left the vehicle.
He was assisted by a passenger who took him to Harare Central Hospital where he was admitted before undergoing an operation on August 6.
He reported the matter at Mbare Police Station under docket number RRB3664468.
One of the victims’ father Maxwell Tauro from Mazowe was also not called to testify even after seeking help to access the commission through the Human Rights NGO Forum.
Tauro said it was around 5pm when he received a call from a relative informing him that his son Challenge had been shot by a soldier.
He said at around 7pm he received another phone call from a nurse at Harare Central Hospital who indicated that his son had been admitted to the emergency ward.
Tauro went to the hospital and found his son with an oxygen mask and was still at the hospital when Challenge died while doctors tried to remove the bullet lodged in his body.
Another survivor, Gladmore Mainzanise, said he was on his way to work when he was assaulted with iron bars by two soldiers wearing masks.
He said he could no longer carry heavy objects.
Andy Manyeruke, a deaf man, was shot on the right shoulder when he attempted to run away from where he was selling airtime when the soldiers started shooting randomly.
He was treated at Parirenyatwa Hospital.
John Gumini was shot on the right foot and was treated at Belvedere Medical Clinic after failing to get help at Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Several people who were assaulted by soldiers in Harare locations, which include Chitungwiza, Kuwadzana, Epworth and Highfield, among others, were also not invited to testify despite submitting affidavits.
They include MDC supporters that were raided by soldiers on August 3 at Ziko shopping centre in Seke and were severely assaulted.
The NGO Forum said it never got an acknowledgment after submitting the report to the Motlanthe commission.
Meanwhile, a documentary produced by the Forum in collaboration with prominent journalist Violet Gonda’s 1stTV titled, Zimbabwe: Ballots then Bullets exposing how soldiers shot at fleeing civilians was ignored by the commission. The Forum is working on a video documentary which critiques the work of the commission to date. The unofficial preparatory version of the documentary, which the Forum submitted to the Commission, was released by Violet Gonda online yesterday. Forum executive director Blessing Gorejena said the documentary was part of the evidence before the commission and that a full version would be released.
Watch the Forum Documentary here